MANILA (UPDATE) - Valenzuela City will suspend the business permit of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corp. if it fails to explain heavy traffic in its tollway and submit an action plan by Monday, mayor Rex Gatchalian said Sunday.
Gatchalian on Friday gave the firm 24 hours to submit an action plan and another 72 hours to give an explanation as to why its business permit should not be suspended or revoked.
NLEX Corp. had asked local government for 15 days to submit an action plan, which he rejects, citing the seriousness of the problem, he said.
"Ang hinihingi ko, solusyon. Hinihingi namin, aksyon. 'Ano ba ang plano n'yong gawin?' Hindi paliwanag ang hinihingi ko lang, kundi sabihin n'yo ba't nangyari yun at aksyunan n'yo, bigyan n'yo kami ng solusyon," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(I am asking for a solution. We are asking for action. 'What do you plan to do?' I am not asking for an explanation, but for you to tell us why that happened and to take action and give us a solution.)
"Di ako tutol sa RFID. Maganda ang teknolohiya 'pag tama ang teknolohiya na gamit niyo... Dito sa NLEX, 7 years na ako nagrereklamo. Hindi nila inayos ang teknolohiya for the past 7 years. RFID is a good technology if you choose the right RFID system," he said.
(I'm not against RFID. Technology is good if the right one is used. I have been complaining against NLEX for 7 years. They didn't fix their technology for the past 7 years.)
The company must fix its RFID system, allowing vehicles to smoothly pass through the gates. "Hindi mo na kailangan hanapin yung sensor. Kundi yung sensor ang hahanap sa'yo para makadaan ka, mabuksan yung barrier."
(We should not be the one tracing the sensor. It should be the sensor that locates our vehicle so the barrier opens and we can pass through.)
"Sa lahat ng ito, kung mapapansin mo, hindi naman nag-apologize ang NLEX nang walang condition. Hindi ba, the first thing you should do is say sorry naman to the general public na inagrabyado mo, then your promise to do better. Sila, puro sorry pero condition."
(In all of these, you can see that NLEX did not even apologize without a condition. The first thing you should do is say sorry to the general public that you offended, then your promise to do better. But they just say sorry and with conditions.)
Motorists should be allowed to pass through NLEX for free if it fails to meet his deadline, Gatchalian said.
"Ang business permit ay pribilehiyo na pinagkakaloob ng lokal na pamahalaan sa isang negosyo. In that case, ang NLEX, 'di na siya pwede mangolekta dito. Toll holiday. Walang babayaran ang mga dadaan dapat," he said.
(Business permit is a privilege given by local government to a firm. In that case, NLEX will no longer be allowed to collect toll here. Motorists should not pay for passing though.)
The mayor earlier asked the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to re-implement number coding and truck ban in the city to alleviate heavy traffic.
"Ang traffic, nand'yan yan... Lumalala 'pag Christmas rush. Pero lalo na ngayon walang number coding at truck ban dito sa Metro Manila, na-compound kasi nito. Ang Valenzuela ang gateway ng Metro Manila sa Central and northern Luzon... Kami ang may pinakamaraming exit and entry ng NLEX for the record," he said.
(Traffic is heavier during Christmas rush, especially now that there's no number coding and truck ban. Valenzuela is Metro Manila's gateway to Central and northern Luzon. We have the most exit and entry points in NLEX for the record.)
"Ako, as a person, nadoble ang travel time ko (My travel time doubled)... It takes an average of 30-45 minutes just to get out of their tollway."
Gatchalian said businesses operating in the city, which is regarded as the factory capital of the country, suffer in terms of reduced delivery transactions as a result of the heavy traffic problem, affecting their income.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the mayor's older brother, said he would call for a review of the government's concession agreement with toll operators.
The senator said toll operators must act on motorists' complaints within 3 business days under Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) rules. The TRB also failed to "lift a finger in the wake of numerous complaints from motorists of long queues and traffic congestion," he lamented.
"Such is an utter display of callousness to the plight of the motorists who, because of technical glitches and apparent inaction of concerned authorities, get stuck in traffic for hours,” he said in a statement.
"Toll road operators have the temerity to exact fees from the public without any commensurate services. It’s deplorable to say the least."